When it was announced Jacoby Ellsbury would be placed on the disabled list, a collective feeling of disappointment and worry was felt by New York Yankees fans.
That feeling has quickly been relieved though by rookie call up Slade Heathcott, who has been phenomenal in four games. He has been hitting .353 with a home run and three RBIs, as well as a perfect fielding percentage with his starting role in the outfield.
What many fans don’t know though, is that the former 2009 first round draft pick had an incredibly difficult road to the MLB.
Heathcott was a sensational high school athlete for his baseball team, being able to hit for power and tear up the base paths. He was molding into a Carlos Beltran type player, and the Yankees were excited to have him.
That quickly changed though. Heathcott would blackout and lose his passport the night before a schedule trip to the Dominican Republic.
The Yankees were shockingly completely unaware of any of these problems, leading to his meltdown with the lost passport. After talking to him about his issues, all of Heathcott’s darkest secrets were revealed.
Heathcott was found in the middle off the woods, passed out and covered in blood in his home state of Texas in his senior year. He was drunk, and punched his way into a random home. He nearly was shot, nearly ending his life.
Other situations included him aiming a 12 Gauge shotgun at his father in an argument. He was kicked off his high school team as a junior for a DUI arrest and academic failures. He eventually was kicked out of his home and had to live in a pickup truck his final year at High School.
The Yankees still loved his potential though, and wanted to help turn this prospects life around.
They signed him up for Alcoholics Anonymous, and introduced him to former pitcher Sam Marsonek, who also struggled with addictions throughout his MLB career.
He started off his minor league career poorly, hitting just .258 with a 60% steal percentage in the Sally League for rookies. That’s passable for a promotion, but for such a highly touted pick, it’s disappointing.
Heathcott really elevated his game over the next two seasons, earning him a spot with the Double-A Trenton Thunder for the 2013 season. He struggled, and then was hit with yet another blow. In May 2014, he tore up his knee and would miss the remainder of the season.
From a first round pick with all the potential in the world, Heathcott was now at rock bottom. He was now looking like a long shot to ever make the majors, and the Yankees could easily have given up on him now. They ultimately decided not to, and that is currently looking like an outstanding decision.
Heathcott bounced back by hitting .285 with excellent defense at Triple-A Scranton, before being promoted to the big leagues. As mentioned before, he’s off to a blazing start.
Making the Yankees roster at all after all he’s been through is a massive accomplishment in its own. At one point, it appeared like his baseball dreams were totally shattered.
After a lots of determination and commitment, Heatchott now has a chance to thrive as a member of the New York Yankees, and if he can keep this hitting up, he might become the next big name to grace the city of New York.